With summer just around the corner I’m sure more than a few of you are getting ready for a vacation. Whether your plans have you camping in the mountains, or flying to some exotic destination, you’re probably looking for a few books to read while your away. Here’s a list of some of my favorite food books that would make for a great summer read, but first I want to tell you about my favorite way of consuming books.
Paper books are bulky, and there are times that reading an ebook isn’t practical (like when you’re on a road trip), which is why I love audio books. I first discovered Audible over a dozen years ago when I was looking for a way to pass the time on a treadmill. Since then, it’s become my favorite way of consuming books. I especially love the fact that many of the books are narrated by the people who wrote them, which gives you a richer understanding of what the author wanted to communicate.
Audible recently introduced their Instant Book Share feature, which lets you give one audiobook you own to a friend, free of charge (Audible pays the royalties) via e-mail, text, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. If you’re already an Audible user, go share your favorite food book with your friends this summer! If you’re not an Audible user, you can sign up for a 30-day trial with a free download.
So without further ado, here are some of my favorite food books:
Michael Pollan has written so many eyeopening books about food (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Botany of Desire, In Defense of Food) that it’s hard to pick just one. In Cooked, Pollan traces the evolution of cooking through a delicious exploration of grilling, braising, baking and fermenting. By mastering heat, time, chemistry and biology, humans have used cooking as a means to not only transformed what we eat, it’s also changed the very course of our existence. While the book mostly celebrates this mastery it also serves as a warning about the consequences of outsourcing our cooking to giant corporations.
People often ask me how I got into food blogging. It’s a long story that’s beyond the scope of this post (perhaps the topic of my own autobiography someday…), but Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone was the catalyst that brought together my love for writing with my passion for food. Tender at the Bone is a mouthwatering narrative about the early years of Reichl’s life that led up to her becoming one of the most famous food critics of our time. Aside from the great writing, it’s the eclectic cast of well developed characters that wander in and out of her life that make this such an entertaining read.
We all know Anthony Bourdain as the expletive-spewing, meat-loving TV host that takes us around the world introducing exotic food cultures, but before he was a celebrity, he was a chef, and in 2000 he wrote this no-holds-barred exposé on life in the kitchen. Sixteen years on, the stories are as relevant as ever and if you’ve ever thought about cooking professionally, this book will make you revaluate your priorities.
As much as Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential tries to scare you away from starting (or even dining at) a restaurant through stories of dysfunction, Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table encourages you through anecdotes and their underlying lessons. Although these days, he’s best known for his publicly traded Shake Shack empire, Meyer is responsible for some of NYC’s most celebrated establishments, such as Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern. Meyer’s success is largely due to his focus on, and mastery of hospitality, which he shares in Setting the Table. While this book is required reading for anyone thinking of entering the restaurant industry, the lessons held between the covers are ones that apply to practically any business, regardless of your industry.
Albert Einstein once said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. What Einstein Told His Cook answers age-old questions about food, while debunking old-wives tales by explaining the science in a way that a 6 year old could understand. While Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking is a more through and technical exploration into the science behind food, this book is an excellent primer for those of you who don’t spend your days in a food lab.